6 dietary tactics that could help fight depression

Diet is important for everyone, especially when it comes to mental illness. Here are some dietary tips that could ease someone's battle with depression.

6 dietary tactics that could help fight depression

1. Load up on carbohydrates

  • Eat a diet that emphasizes carbohydrates. They've been associated with a calming, relaxed effect.
  • Carbs allow the amino acid tryptophan to enter the brain, where it's then used to make serotonin.
  • Feel-good foods in­clude pasta, breads, grains, cereals, fruits and juices.

2. Cut down on sugar

  • When some sugar-sensitive people eat large quantities of sweets, they may experience an energetic "high" followed by a "low."
  • Limit sugar consumption. However, the naturally occurring substance in chocolate called phenylethylamine (PEA) has been found to elevate endorphin levels and act as a natural antidepressant.

3. Get a lot more B vitamins

  • B6, B12 and folate all may help certain forms of depression.
  • Vitamin B6 has been shown to provide some relief to women suffering from PMS-related depression.
  • Part of this may be due to the role of B6 in helping convert tryptophan to serotonin in the brain.
  • B6 sources are meat, fish, poultry, whole grains, bananas and potatoes.
  • Folate is found in green leafy vegetables, orange juice, lentils, corn, asparagus, peas, nuts and seeds.
  • B12 is found in all animal foods and fortified soy and rice beverages.

4. Turn to tryptophan

  • Found in turkey and other animal products, the amino acid tryptophan helps make the mood-critical neurotransmitter serotonin.
  • Research shows that tryptophan can help induce sleep and may play a role in treating certain types of depression.
  • You can't get tryptophan from supplements, but you can get it from food.
  • Turkey, almonds, pumpkin seeds and watercress all have high levels of tryptophan.

5. Try some fish

  • Research shows that rates of depression are lower in countries where lots of fish is consumed.
  • Recently, experts have noted that some people who suffer from depression have low levels of omega-3 fatty acids.
  • These fatty acids are abundant in fatty fish, especially cold-water fish such as salmon, trout and mackerel.
  • Low fish consumption and low levels of a potent form of an omega-3 fatty acid called DHA have both been linked with higher rates of post­partum depression.
  • Recently, a flurry of studies have shown that consuming more omega-3 fatty acids can help stabilize mood.
  • New studies have shown that omega-3 fatty acids can help symptoms of depression and bipolar disorder.

6. Add supplements if you don't like fish

  • For people who don't like fish, fish-oil supplements are available in health-food stores.
  • Talk to your doctor before taking them, though, since they can thin the blood.
  • Flaxseeds and flaxseed oil are other sources of omega-3 fatty acids.

Nutritious food is needed to cope with any disease, but unfortunately, de­pressed people are especially likely to be careless about their nutrition. The resulting poor nourishment can interfere with treatment. Eating the right diet, however, can help you be healthier in mind and body.

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